From corporate life on a laptop to car GPS systems, to less apparent solutions like cooking thermometers that ping you when your food is ready or a continuous glucose monitor for those with diabetes to receive real-time data on their sugar levels, technology has entrenched itself into almost every aspect of our lives often making tasks straightforward, easier and more efficient.

However, when it comes to reviewing the effects of technology within the confines of a classroom or educational environment, views can vary from it being extremely beneficial to somewhat problematic. Technology-based courses are often promoted as a way to upskill as an educator, yet there is still the view that there are negative impacts technology can have in the educational field. 

Below we examine the pros and cons of technology in the education system and the effect it can have on students within it.

Pros of technology in the education system

It’s fun and exciting

Particularly for younger students who have more than likely grown up with mobiles, laptops and tablets as part of their daily lives, technology is often associated with being fun and exciting. As a consequence of this, harnessing technology in the classroom helps bring enjoyment, excitement and a greater attention span to the learning experience. 

Blended learning

Appropriately blending different styles of learning - including those that utilise technology - has shown to be an effective way to approach education. Combining elements of face-to-face learning, online learning and self-paced learning has been shown to lead to better student experiences and outcomes and more engaged students overall.

It prepares students for the future

Key findings from a Gonski Institute of Education report found that four in five children owned at least one screen-based device, with personal ownership starting as young as four years old. With the world we live in consistently changing and adapting as new technologies become readily available, having a basic understanding of common technologies from an early age can help prepare one for success in a world where technology continues to be prevalent and will likely be utilised for both work and everyday life. 

Spontaneous learning

Allowing children to investigate topics they find interesting can lead to spontaneous learning experiences they would otherwise not have had access to. When used appropriately and carefully monitored, technology can help supplement learning both in or outside the classroom - if a child has just completed a particularly engaging lesson on space for example, they may find themselves searching for videos or other content that relates after the lesson.

Cons of technology in the education system

Resource limitations 

Having technology in the classroom is one thing - having access to working technology is quite another. A Growing Up in Australia study found that while the majority of teachers had positive views about the use of technology in the education system, inadequate infrastructure and inadequate technical support were seen as an issue. Essentially what this comes down to is if you are going to integrate technology into a classroom, it needs to be done effectively.

It can affect socialisation

Child-to-child relationships involve social interactions with one another to help develop social and emotional capacities including interpreting the perspectives of others, self-regulating behaviour, contributing to a task or topic and improving impulse control. 

For young children who are spending more time engaging with their devices and less time interacting with their peers, there is reason to believe they are at risk of not developing these skills. To mitigate this risk, “screen time” monitoring could be appropriate. Early Childhood Australia also recommends creating opportunities for children to use technologies collaboratively for a shared purpose or to complete a shared project to help provide more social experiences. 

It can be a distraction

Despite best efforts to keep students on track and focused, computers or other technologies can become a distraction if appropriate measures are not taken. Blocking inappropriate content, utilising internet filters and supervision are all advised. It can also be beneficial to provide young students with education on the proper and safe use of the internet to help build their knowledge and ensure they remain vigilant when online.

Whether you are a supporter of technology in the classroom or not, it is evident we now live in a world where it continues to gain momentum in the educational space. By putting rules and practices in place to help mitigate the cons, teachers, lecturers and tutors can help build a system that will ultimately provide students with a better educational environment with greater engagement and more opportunity.

Published on Dec 13, 2023